Saints claim blackmail in Vicodin case

MIKE GANTER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:07 PM ET

The Super Bowl feel-good hangover in New Orleans is officially finished.

Bad news can get in the way of even the best of leftover feelings.

The Saints are up to their gold and black pants in allegations these days after a former director of security dropped a civil lawsuit on them over the weekend claiming a coverup of stolen and abused Vicodin from the team facility.

The lawsuit alleges two senior staff members — according to news sources, believed to be head coach Sean Payton and linebackers coach Joe Vitt — helped themselves to, or were provided with, Vicodin kept in team trainers’ medicine cabinet last April.

The former directory of security, one Geoffrey Santini who also happens to be a 31-year veteran of the FBI, contends he had no choice but to resign from his job when he presented this information to management and was subsequently told to keep it quiet. Santini is looking for compensatory damages, back pay and reinstatement in the suit.

According to published reports, Santini has video evidence of one of the two senior staffers — word is it is Vitt — gaining access to the training room after hours and taking Vicodin from the locked medicine cabinet.

The case isn’t quite so clear-cut against Payton, who does not having a pre-existing condition that warranted the drugs. While Vitt’s first name is used in the civil suit at one point, Payton’s name does not appear. Payton has since released a statement denying ever stealing Vicodin or abusing it.

The Saints are claiming this to be a case of a former employee attempting to shake them down.

“A former employee who resigned just before the 2009 regular season threatened to go public with these unfounded charges unless we agreed to pay him an exorbitant sum of money,” said Greg Bensel, vice-president of communications for the Saints. in a statement. “We refused, and now he has gone public. We will aggressively defend these false allegations in court.”

GM Mickey Loomis, if the allegations are true, could come out of this in as bad, or worse, shape than Vitt. In the lawsuit, Loomis is alleged to have had his trainers doctor the books so it appears all the Vicodin was accounted for.

As a controlled substance, the possession and distribution of Vicodin is overseen and regulated by the U.S. government. If Loomis were trying to overstep these bounds, it will not go overlooked.

A report in Monday’s New Orleans Times-Picayune said DEA agents are looking into the allegations and an investigation is “pending.”

The Martz Magic

It hasn’t been seen since the 1990 Rams won it all, but one-time offensive genius Mike Martz was back making headlines this weekend. No, he hasn’t discovered the play that can’t be defended, but he did come to some very fast conclusions about his receiving corps.

“I love our receivers,” Martz told Bears.com on Sunday after the Chicago Bears concluded their rookie minicamp with a 90-minute practice. “I think that our receivers corps will be the strength of this team. You can put that in granite. I can promise you that one. There are not very many things I would say are unretractable, but that one is pretty strong. This will be the strength of this football team.”

Apparently, watching Johnny Knox, Devin Hester, Rashied Davis, Devin Aromashodu, Earl Bennett, and Juaquin Iglesias work out had quite an impact on Martz.

Or, maybe he just missed being in the headlines.

AT THE HALF

The Pittsburgh Steelers minicamp saw Byron Leftwich take most of the snaps, but coach Mike Tomlin is saying not to read anything into it. Tomlin says he is still a long way from deciding who will start at quarterback while Ben Roethlisberger sits out his six-game suspension to start the season ... This from Peter King’s Monday Morning Quarterback in Sports Illustrated. Seems King has given up predicting what Brett Favre will do, given how many times he has made a prediction and had it go the other way. So, when King shares with his readers a conversation he had with an NFL vet who swore up and down that Favre told him he would never, ever, ever, put the pads on again following last season, King reports it, but buries it because he won’t believe it until it actually happens ... Darren Sharper put the pressure on the Saints with a visit to Jacksonville and the pressure appears to have done its job. The Jaguars took a hard look at Sharper, but the free-agent safety, who had nine picks, three returned for touchdowns in the Saints’ championship season last year, has agreed to a one-year deal with his old team.

FOURTH AND INCHES

Titans RB Chris Johnson wants a raise after two solid years and is refusing to come to off-season workouts until he gets one. Eagles WR DeSean Jackson also believes he deserves a raise but realizes the way the CBA works and refuses to be a “crybaby” and force the team to accommodate his wishes. He is working out now. Which future star do you want on your team? ... The talk out of Detroit is the running game is going to be a by-committee situation, with newcomer Jahvid Best along with Maurice Morris and Kevin Smith, assuming he makes it back from his torn ACL.


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